Disney's The Little Mermaid is an animated television series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation based on the 1989 Disney film of the same name. It features the adventures of Ariel as a mermaid prior to the events of the film. This series is the first Disney television series to be spun off from a major animated film. Some of the voice actors of the film reprise their roles in the series, among them Jodi Benson as Ariel, Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, Kenneth Mars as King Triton and Pat Carroll as Ursula. Other voice actors include Edan Gross and Bradley Pierce as Flounder, and Jeff Bennett as Prince Eric.
The Little Mermaid premiered in the fall of 1992 with the animated prime time special called "A Whale of a Tale," then moved to Saturday mornings. This series originally appeared on CBS, with an original run from 1992 to 1994, prior to Disney's purchase of rival ABC. Disney Channel reran the series in the late-1990s until it was replaced by their pre-teen lineup. The show was later shown on Toon Disney, but no longer airs. Some of the episodes contain musical segments featuring original songs written for the series. The opening theme to the show is an instrumental combination of the songs "Part of Your World", "Under the Sea", and "Kiss the Girl". The overture for the stage musical of The Little Mermaid is similar to this.
The Little Mermaid television series is a prequel to the movie of the same name. The story is set before the events in the 1989 film, and follows Ariel's adventures as a mermaid still living under the sea with her father, Sebastian the crab and Flounder the Coral reef fish. Various episodes highlight Ariel's relationship with her friends, father and sisters, and most episodes involve Ariel foiling the attempts of various enemies that intend ill harm to her or her kingdom. A prequel film, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, was released in 2008 containing events that contradict the television series (such as Ariel's youth and first meeting with Flounder), making the TV series and film independent continuities.
After the success of the 1989 movie, The Walt Disney Company planned to produce a children's television series for its Disney Channel cable outlet called "The Little Mermaid's Island." The proposed series would feature puppets from Jim Henson's Creature Shop interacting with a "live" Ariel. As the video release of The Little Mermaid soared in sales during 1990 and early 1991, Disney quietly dropped plans for "The Little Mermaid's Island" in favor of a more ambitious plan: an animated weekly series for the CBS network. The new show would concern the adventures of Ariel and her friends before the events in the movie.
Jamie Mitchell, an artist and graphic designer who worked on Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, was named the producer and director of the new series. Patsy Cameron and Tedd Anasti were the story editors and wrote almost all of the episodes for the show's second and third seasons. Their previous joint work included Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs, the animated Beetlejuice and Disney's DuckTales. Some of the artists and technicians on the feature film also contributed to the TV series. Mark Dindall, chief of special animated effects for the movie, was a consultant for special effects on the TV show. Robby Merkin, who worked with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman on arranging the songs for the movie, worked as the arranger and music producer for the first season of the TV show.
Conscious of the worldwide acclaim for the movie's superior artistry, Walt Disney Television Animation auditioned the best overseas animation studios. In the world of TV animation, farming most of the artwork out to Asian studios is an economic reality due to lower production costs and wages abroad. Studios in Korea, Japan and the Philippines contributed to the series.
Not everyone in the Disney organization was thrilled that the movie was now going weekly on television. Some of the feature animators who had worked on the movie complained privately and anonymously. These artists felt the television division should come up with its own ideas.
The show's broadcast debut in September 1992 was in the form of a half-hour prime-time special, "The Little Mermaid: A Whale of a Tale." Interestingly, "Whale of a Tale" is not officially considered an episode of the series by Disney because it was produced under a separate contract from CBS and was not shown again in the U.S. after its one and only broadcast, though it is available on video and laserdisc.
Its Saturday morning debut came the very next day. The show's time slot was 8:30a.m., following another new animated series based on the animated movie, An American Tail. The Little Mermaid series drew a fair bit of media attention, including more than one spot on Entertainment Tonight, because it was the first series based directly on a Disney animated feature and was a rare television cartoon concerning a strong female character. The show kept its time slot the following year with its second season.
For the series' third season, the show was moved to the 8 a.m. time period and was the lead-in for a new Disney animated series, Aladdin. This was to be the show's last season in original production; CBS elected not to buy another batch of episodes. On October 2, 1995, The Disney Channel began rerunning the show seven days a week. The show was broadcast once a day on The Disney Channel and on the new Toon Disney cable outlet until 2010. The series then aired on Disney Junior from the channel's launch in 2012 until 2014.
From the 1989 filmEdit
- Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) – She is the youngest daughter of the sea king who loves to sing and go on adventures. She also has developed magical means in season 2 (episode 9) to save her world.
- Flounder (voiced by Edan Gross (season 1, 2 and 3) and Bradley Pierce (season 2 and 3) – Ariel's best friend, a bright yellow and golden blue colored tropical reef fish who follows along on her adventures, and can be easily scared.
- Sebastian (voiced by Samuel E. Wright) – A small red jamaican crab who acts as the king's adviser, court musician, a teacher, a scout leader and a baby-sitter-like figure for Ariel.
- King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars) – He is Ariel's father and ruler of Atlantica who protects his kingdom with his magic trident.
- Scuttle (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) – He is a clumsy seagull who is friends with Ariel. He first appears in the episode "Scuttle". At first Ariel is afraid of Scuttle, but they become friends after he helps them rescue Sebastian.
- Aquata (voiced by Mona Marshall), Andrina (voiced by Catherine Cavadini), Arista (voiced by Mary Kay Bergman), Attina (voiced by Kath Soucie), Adella (voiced by Sherry Lynn) and Alana (voiced by Kimmy Robertson) are Ariel's six older sisters.
- Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll) is a powerful cecaelian sea witch who occasionally antagonizes Ariel.
- Flotsam and Jetsam (voiced by Paddi Edwards) – They are Ursula's green moray eel henchmen who do her evil bidding for her they have One Eye White and the Other Yellow.
- Prince Eric (voiced by Jeff Bennett) – Ariel's future husband. His first appearance is in the episode "Thingamajigger" and appears occasionally throughout the seasons with his dog, Max, as a puppy. Ariel first sees him saving a dolphin from a net, which technically makes this scene the first time she has ever seen Prince Eric, but does not know who he is.
- Urchin (voiced by Danny Cooksey) – He is an orphan young merman and Ariel's friend. He shares her love for adventure and is unofficially her adopted brother, and at one point starts to develop romantic feelings for Ariel.
- The Lobster Mobster (voiced by Joe Alaskey) – A red-violet american lobster gangster following the style of the 1920s gangster stereotype and Da Shrimp (voiced by David Lander) is his sidekick.
- Evil Manta (voiced by Tim Curry) – An evil man/manta ray hybrid who repeatedly tries to take over Atlantica. He has a son named Little Evil who Ariel befriends in the episode "A Little Evil".
- Pearl (voiced by Cree Summer) – A spoiled, thrill-seeking mermaid whose actions often lead to Ariel, as well as herself, getting in trouble.
- Spot (voiced by Frank Welker) – A killer whale calf whom Ariel adopted and secretly raised in the palace.
- Simon (voiced by Brian Cummings) - A lonely, but friendly lavender colored sea dragon whom Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder befriends with.
- Gabriella – A deaf-mute Latina mermaid who dreams of becoming a singer. Gabriella's sign language is translated by her blue octopus friend Ollie (who is voiced by Gabriel Damon). This character is based on a real person who was a fan of the show and died during its first season.
- Moray (voiced by Dave Coulier) – A dark green moray eel salesman and con-artist who occasionally sells items to Ariel that alternately help her or get her into trouble.
- The Crabscouts (occasionally voiced by J.D. Daniels, Anndi McAfee, Bradley Pierce, Malachi Pearson, and Whitby Hertford) – They are crab children, consisting of two boys and one girl, who are under the mentorship of Sebastian in a scout-like troop.
- Flo and Ebb (voiced by Kath Soucie and Richard Karron) – Two brown]] american alligator criminals who appear in the episode "Beached".
- The Magical Wishing Starfish (voiced by Tony Jay) – A giant starfish with a beard and crown who only appears in the episode "Wish Upon A Starfish".
- Emperor Sharga (voiced by Jim Cummings) – Ruler of the Sharkanians, the shark-people who live in Sharkania similar to the merfolk who live in Atlantica. Sharga wishes to take over Atlantica someday.
- The Ancient Seaclops (voiced by Jim Cummings) – An ancient one-eyed sea monster whose primary objective is to sleep every 1,000 years and wants to see it through more than anything else. He gets very angry when he is woken up so abruptly by any loud noise and appeared in the episode "Calliope Dreams".
- Dudley (voiced by Dave Coulier) is an elderly sea turtle who serves as an assistant to King Triton other than Sebastian he walks on the Ocean floor unlike other sea turtles.
- Hans Christian Andersen (voiced by Mark Hamill) – A fictionalised version of the author Hans Christian Andersen, who appears in the episode "Metal Fish" where he rides a fish-shaped Submarine and sees Ariel, which inspires him to write the story "The Little Mermaid".
- Archimedes (voiced by Rod McKuen) – A merman who knows about human things, appearing in "Metal Fish".
The series had a total of 31 episodes over three seasons. The first episode, "Whale of a Tale", has Ariel adopting Spot, a baby killer whale, when he is separated from his family. The episode "In Harmony" features a flashback to Ariel and Flounder's first meeting when they younger, and the episode "Red" has King Triton magically reverting into a merboy, which gives Ariel a glimpse of how her father used to be when he was younger, and that they aren't so different after all.
In the episode "Metal Fish" Ariel saves a human, Hans Christian Andersen, who is loosely based on the real life author of the original The Little Mermaid, and the encounter inspired the character to "write" the story of The Little Mermaid. A voice-over at the end of the episode by Kenneth Mars, who voices King Triton, talks about the real Hans Christian Andersen, while the image on-screen is of Ariel sitting on a rock in the style of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen harbor. This meta situation is repeated in The Legend of Tarzan episode "Tarzan and the Mysterious Visitor" where Tarzan meets his author Edgar Rice Burroughs who travels to Africa in search of inspiration for a new novel.
Seven VHS cassettes containing 14 episodes of the series were released in the United States.
Ariel's Undersea Adventures:
|VHS Name||Episode Titles||Release Date||Stock Number|
|Ariel's Undersea Adventures: Double Bubble||"Double Bubble" & "Message in a Bottle"||February 23, 1993||1666|
|Ariel's Undersea Adventures: In Harmony||"The Evil Manta" & "Charmed"||June 24, 1994||2038|
|Ariel's Undersea Adventures: Stormy the Wild Seahorse||"Stormy the Wild Seahorse" & "The Great Sebastian"||June 24, 1994||1665|
|Ariel's Undersea Adventures: Whale of a Tale||"Whale of a Tale" & "Urchin"||June 24, 1994||1664|
|Ariel's Undersea Adventures: Ariel's Gift||"Ariel's Gift" & "Trident True"||July 15, 1994||2039|
|VHS Name||Episode Titles||Release Date||Stock Number|
|Princess Collection - Ariel's Songs & Stories: Giggles||"Giggles" & "Against the Tide"||June 6, 1995||4709|
|Princess Collection - Ariel's Songs & Stories: Wish Upon a Starfish||"Wish Upon a Starfish" & "Metal Fish"||June 6, 1995||4708|
Australia & New Zealand releasesEdit
Eleven VHS cassettes containing 22 episodes of the series were released in Australia and New Zealand.
Ariel's Undersea Adventures:
|VHS Name||Episode Titles||Release Date|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 1): Whale of a Tale||"Whale of a Tale" & "Urchin"||November 26, 1993|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 2): Stormy the Wild Seahorse||"Stormy the Wild Seahorse" & "The Great Sebastian"||November 26, 1993|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 3): Double Bubble||"Double Bubble" & "Message in a Bottle"||November 26, 1993|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 4): In Harmony||"The Evil Manta" & "Charmed"||April 1, 1994|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 5): Ariel's Gift||"Ariel's Gift" & "Trident True"||April 1, 1994|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 6): Ariel the Ballerina||"Wish Upon a Starfish" & "Metal Fish"||April 1, 1994|
|The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventures (Volume 7): Saltwater Sisters||"Beached" & "Thingmaijigger"||April 1, 1994|
|VHS Name||Episode Titles||Release Date|
|Princess Collection (Volume 1): The Little Mermaid - Giggles||"Giggles" & "Against the Tide"||October 11, 1996|
|Princess Collection (Volume 2): The Little Mermaid - Wish Upon a Starfish||"Wish Upon a Starfish" & "Metal Fish"||October 11, 1996|
|Princess Collection (Volume 3): The Little Mermaid - Heroes||"Heroes" & "El-ectric City"||March 28, 1997|
|Princess Collection (Volume 4): The Little Mermaid - Tail of Two Crabs||"A Little Evil" & "Tail of Two Crabs"||March 28, 1997|
The series has not yet been officially released on DVD. However, four episodes were released as part of the Disney Princess DVD releases.
|DVD Name||Episode Title||Release Date|
|Disney Princess Party: Volume 1||"Message in a Bottle"||September 7, 2004|
|Disney Princess Stories: Volume 1||"Wish Upon a Starfish"||September 7, 2004|
|Disney Princess Stories: Volume 2||"Giggles"||February 15, 2005|
|Disney Princess Stories: Volume 3||"Ariel's Treasures"||September 6, 2005|
Video on DemandEdit
The entire series is currently available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video in Germany, consisting of three seasons.
- IMDB listing
- [tv.com show|the-little-mermaid|The Little Mermaid (TV series| TV.com listing]
- Disney's official page on Ariel on the Disney Princess portal
- Disney's official page about The Little Mermaid film
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